Posts tagged with CRS

Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, More from CRS

Noteworthy new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following (all pdf).

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2002-2009, September 10, 2010.

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, August 20, 2010.

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress, August 26, 2010.

China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues, August 16, 2010.

Southwest Border Violence: Issues in Identifying and Measuring Spillover Violence, August 24, 2010.

Emergency Communications: Broadband and the Future of 911, August 25, 2010.

Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress, August 24, 2010.

Afghanistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance, August 12, 2010.

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians, August 12, 2010.

The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer, August 18, 2010.

Geoengineering, and More from CRS

Technologies to modify the Earth’s climate are at least conceivable and, in the absence of a comprehensive national and international climate change policy, may soon emerge as practical alternatives, a new survey of the subject from the Congressional Research Service suggests.

“The term ‘geoengineering’ describes this array of technologies that aim, through large-scale and deliberate modifications of the Earth’s energy balance, to reduce temperatures and counteract anthropogenic climate change,” the CRS report said.  However, “Most of these technologies are at the conceptual and research stages, and their effectiveness at reducing global temperatures has yet to be proven.”

“Moreover, very few studies have been published that document the cost, environmental effects, sociopolitical impacts, and legal implications of geoengineering. If geoengineering technologies were to be deployed, they are expected to have the potential to cause significant transboundary effects.”  See “Geoengineering: Governance and Technology Policy” (pdf), August 16, 2010.

The Congressional Research Service — acting at congressional direction — does not permit direct public access to its publications.  Some other recent CRS reports obtained by Secrecy News include the following (all pdf).

“Federal Civil and Criminal Penalties Possibly Applicable to Parties Responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill,” August 16, 2010.

“Public Employees’ Right to Privacy in Their Electronic Communications: City of Ontario v. Quon in the Supreme Court,” July 28, 2010.

Samantar v. Yousef: The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and Foreign Officials,” August 24, 2010.

“The European Union’s Response to the 2007-2009 Financial Crisis,” August 13, 2010.

“Turkey: Politics of Identity and Power,” August 13, 2010.

Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain (CRS)

Rare earth elements — of which there are 17, including the 15 lanthanides plus yttrium and scandium — are needed in many industrial and national security applications, from flat panel displays to jet fighter engines.  Yet there are foreseeable stresses on the national and global supply of these materials.

“The United States was once self-reliant in domestically produced [rare earth elements], but over the past 15 years has become 100% reliant on imports, primarily from China,” a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service observes.  “The dominance of China as a single or dominant supplier [...] is a cause for concern because of China’s growing internal demand for its [own rare earth elements],” the report said.

The CRS report provides background and analysis on the uses of rare earth elements, existing reserves, national security applications, the global supply chain and relevant legislation.  See “Rare Earth Elements: the Global Supply Chain,” July 28, 2010.

Reviews of Foreign Investment in U.S. Remain “Obscure”

“The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is an interagency committee that serves the President in overseeing the national security implications of foreign investment in the economy,” the Congressional Research Service has explained (pdf).  “Originally established by an Executive Order of President Ford in 1975, the committee generally has operated in relative obscurity.”

That relative obscurity continues to prevail.  A new Department of Defense Instruction says that “The DoD CFIUS process should, to the extent possible, be a transparent process.”  Yet the same Instruction dictates that “Information or documentary material filed with CFIUS shall be exempt from disclosure [under the Freedom of Information Act] and will not be made public.”  See “DoD Procedures for Reviewing and Monitoring Transactions Filed with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS),” DoD Instruction 2000.25 (pdf), August 5, 2010.

Two informative background reports on CFIUS were recently updated by the Congressional Research Service (both pdf).  See “The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS),” July 29, 2010, and “The Exon-Florio National Security Test for Foreign Investment,” July 19, 2010.

Afghanistan Casualties, and More from CRS

Sixty-six American troops died in Afghanistan in July, making it the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the Afghanistan War thus far, the Washington Post and others reported.

Casualties of the Afghanistan War have recently been tabulated by the Congressional Research Service, including statistics on American forces, of whom around 1100 have been killed, as well as allied forces, and Afghan civilians.  Although the three week old CRS report does not include the very latest figures, it provides links to official and unofficial sources of casualty information that are regularly updated.  See “Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians,” July 12, 2010.

A number of other noteworthy new CRS reports that have not been made readily available to the public were obtained by Secrecy News, including these (all pdf):

“Terrorist Material Support: An Overview of 18 U.S.C. 2339A and 2339B,” July 19, 2010.

“Terrorist Material Support: A Sketch of 18 U.S.C. 2339A and 2339B,” July 19, 2010.

“Veterans Medical Care: FY2011 Appropriations,” July 27, 2010.

“U.S. Sanctions on Burma,” July 16, 2010.

“U.S.-Australia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation: Issues for Congress,” July 7, 2010.

Sen. John McCain inserted a nice tribute in the Congressional Record on April 28 to CRS analyst Christopher Bolkcom, our friend and former FAS colleague, who died last year.  See “Remembering Christopher C. Bolkcom.”

Costs of Major U.S. Wars Compared

More than a trillion dollars has been appropriated since September 11, 2001 for U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.  This makes the “war on terrorism” the most costly of any military engagement in U.S. history in absolute terms or, if correcting for inflation, the second most expensive U.S. military action after World War II.

A newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service estimated the financial costs of major U.S. wars from the American Revolution ($2.4 billion in FY 2011 dollars) to World War I ($334 billion) to World War II ($4.1 trillion) to the second Iraq war ($784 billion) and the war in Afghanistan ($321 billion).  CRS provided its estimates in current year dollars (i.e. the year they were spent) and in constant year dollars (adjusted for inflation), and as a percentage of gross domestic product.  Many caveats apply to these figures, which are spelled out in the CRS report.

In constant dollars, World War II is still the most expensive of all U.S. wars, having consumed a massive 35.8% of GDP at its height and having cost $4.1 trillion in FY2011 dollars.  See “Costs of Major U.S. Wars,” June 29, 2010.

Intelligence Reform, and More from CRS

Congress has forbidden the Congressional Research Service to make its publications directly available to the public, so it is left to others to do so.  New CRS reports obtained by Secrecy News include the following (all pdf).

“Intelligence Reform After Five Years: The Role of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI),” June 22, 2010.

“Questioning Supreme Court Nominees About Their Views on Legal or Constitutional Issues: A Recurring Issue,” June 23, 2010.

“The ‘Volcker Rule’: Proposals to Limit ‘Speculative’ Proprietary Trading by Banks,” June 22, 2010.

“The Nunn-McCurdy Act: Background, Analysis, and Issues for Congress,” June 21, 2010.

“Environmental Considerations in Federal Procurement: An Overview of the Legal Authorities and Their Implementation,” June 21, 2010.

“EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: Congressional Responses and Options,” June 8, 2010.

China’s Green Energy Programs, and More from CRS

One thing that is even more impressive than China’s nuclear history is its emerging green energy future.  “China has set ambitious targets for developing its… renewable energy resources with a major push of laws, policies and incentives in the last few years,” according to a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

“The wind power sector is illustrative of China’s accomplishments, as installed wind power capacity has gone from 0.567 GW in 2003 to 12.2 GW in 2008.  Plans already exist to grow China’s wind power capacity to 100 GW by 2020. A similar goal exists for the solar photovoltaic power sector which China intends to increase from 140 MW as of 2009 to over 1.8 GW by 2020.”

“Renewable energy is subsidized by a fee charged to all electricity users in China of about 0.029 cents per kilowatt-hour,” the CRS report noted.

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News.  See “China and the United States — A Comparison of Green Energy Programs and Policies,” June 14, 2010.

Other new CRS products that have not been made publicly available online include the following (both pdf).

“Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Acquisition: Issues for Congress,” June 15, 2010.

“Securing America’s Borders: The Role of the Military,” June 16, 2010.

Elena Kagan on Executive Power, and More from CRS

As a matter of law and policy, the Congressional Research Service does not make its products directly available to the public.  The following CRS reports were obtained by Secrecy News (all pdf).

“Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan: Presidential Authority and the Separation of Powers,” June 4, 2010.

“Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan: Defamation and the First Amendment,” June 10, 2010.

“The Jurisprudence of Justice John Paul Stevens: Selected Opinions on the Jury’s Role in Criminal Sentencing,” June 7, 2010 (see related materials here).

“Israel’s Blockade of Gaza and the Mavi Marmara Incident,” June 5, 2010.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News that have not previously been made available online include the following (all pdf).

“Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Selected Issues for Congress,” May 27, 2010.

“Deferred Examination of Patent Applications: Implications for Innovation Policy,” May 27, 2010.

“Post-Employment, ‘Revolving Door,’ Laws for Federal Personnel,” updated May 12, 2010.

“A New United Nations Entity for Women: Issues for Congress,” May 25, 2010.

“Democratic Reforms in Taiwan: Issues for Congress,” May 26, 2010.

“Detection of Nuclear Weapons and Materials: Science, Technologies, Observations,” updated June 4, 2010.